EMI to release 'Fifty Shades of Grey' classical album selected by E L James
The hubbub about "Fifty Shades of Grey" seems to have focused primarily on all the sexy stuff and the efforts in some corners -- including Maryland, my Maryland -- to keep the hyper-bestseller by E L James off of library shelves.
But, for me, the hottest thing about the book is the classical music referenced in the steamy pages. Any mention -- non-dismissive mention, that is -- of classical music in mainstream culture has got to be a good thing.
Sure enough, one of the pieces that turns up in "Fifty Shades of Grey," a 16th-century motet piece by Thomas Tallis, is already a chart-buster.
A years-old recording of that music by the wonderful Tallis Scholars -- E L James' personal recommendation -- started a downloading frenzy on iTunes, helping it hit No. 1 on the UK Classical Singles Chart ("Fifty Shades of Grey" just became the best-selling book ever in Britain).
Pretty neat to think that so many E L James readers could be turned into early music fans.
Now comes word that James herself has chosen 15 shades of classical music from her trilogy -- "Fifty Shades of Grey," "Fifty Shades Darker," "Fifty Shades Freed" -- and these 15 tracks will be featured on an album from EMI. Among the stellar artists represented on the album: Adrian Boult, Riccardo Muti, Alexandre Tharaud, Arleen Auger and, of course, the Tallis Scholars. The digital release is set for ...
Aug. 15; the physical CD will be out Sept. 18.
You don't have to wait until then to get a taste of what's in store. As a public service, I have thoughtfully provided a sampler below, using YouTube versions of the tracks that will be on the EMI release.
Most of the music for the album is not as esoteric as the Tallis item. We're talking lots of greatest hits here -- maybe E L James did her writing while listening to one of the innumerable collections of reissued classical pieces EMI and other labels have released steadily over the years.
Nothing wrong with introducing a whole bunch of new listeners to certified classics, of course; that's one way to ensure that the hits will stay hits.
Bach is represented by three keyboard works -- the profound Aria from the Goldberg Variations, a transcription of the lilting "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring," and the sublime Adagio from Bach's transcription on an Alessandro Marcello oboe concerto.
The ubiquitous Canon in D by Pachelbel is included. Piano pieces by Chopin, Debussy ("The Girl With the Flaxen Hair") and Rachmaninoff (a movement from Concerto No. 2, of course) are also in the mix.
The world of opera is represented by the Prelude to Verdi's "La Traviata" and the lovely Flower Duet from Delibes' "Lakme," familiar from many a TV commercial.
The Tallis motet is in the mix. Another exquisite choral work, this one from centuries later, also made the cut -- "In Paradisum" from Faure's Requiem. A vocal solo is here, too -- the deliciously shimmering "Bailero" from Canteloube's "Songs of the Auvergne."
Here's a sampling of what's in store:
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